The Necessity of Prep Work and Respect in the Kitchen...

1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
I am very sure everyone knows that prep work is essential if you want to cut the cooking to plating time down. So far my DH would like me to take over the kitchen instead of starting up my PC service. My problem is that the staff have no clue that prep work is essential. Say for example a customer wants chicken teriyaki. If the prep work was done already (blanching veggies, pre cook and dice chicken breasts) it would take about, what :rolleyes: 5 -7 minutes to prepare and plate?

I got cut off in mid sentence and waved off with the cook saying that it was....get this...."too much work"! So it isn't too much work for him to spend 15 to 20 minutes cooking and plating this meal? It's too much trouble to go through for the customer not to get chicken teriyaki where the chicken is overcooked and the veggies undercooked? With the prep done he could use that for the Chicken & Broccoli dish and a few other things. Cooking is too much work for him???

I already explained to DH that if I'm cooking...some people are gonna have to go. The food and the customer comes first! If they are just interested in the paycheck then they are working with the wrong person! :mad: I demand respect! Is that a hard thing to ask for? We give them days off, sick days and a vacation (one guy left for a year and we welcomed him back). We even hired the short cooks wife as a waitress so he could have more household income. Why can't we get the same appreciation? Do you think I should work in the kitchen under those circumstances where ther is no team work and the help just stands by and watches when you get in the weeds!?

I'd rather PC!

Jodi
 
3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
Oh dear. You have so many different issues there. Okay, here comes the management consultant, back from a former life:

The one issue that jumped out ahead of the others is: no one receives respect just because they demanded it. Respect may come by virtue of one's position (which sounds like what you expect), but even then it must be earned to be genuine and lasting. And a big part of earning it is giving it. That is, people we treat with respect are more likely to listen to and respect us back. It's a dance, not a tug-of-war.

Employees do NOT want to be expected to appreciate what their employers do for them. Employees want to earn their pay, and receive whatever benefits come with the job. It's a simple economic exchange. GOOD employees want to learn more, and do their jobs as well as possible -- but that's what employers hope for, not what they should automatically expect.

Organizational change has to have a "champion" at the top. Someone with authority has to make it clear to everyone that things have to be done differently -- and participate in the learning and teaching. Who's REALLY in charge at your place -- who is accepted as the fearless leader? DH? MIL? One of the cooks? Whoever it is, THAT'S the person who first has to accept the idea of prepping, and help you get the others to accept it. Otherwise, you'll drive yourself -- and everyone else-- crazy, and accomplish nothing.

Just curious -- what kind of prepping do they do now??
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Suzanne,

I treat everyone there with respect. If someone needs something I do it...no questions asked. Right now someone is stealing my equipment and taking cash from the register. The person who was in charge was my FIL but he died last year. My MIL is supposed to be in charge but keeps trying to pass the buck to me and DH. I don't want to be someplace where I treat everyone nice and get walked all over anymore. Im changing my point of view and (Im not sure how to explain what I mean) Im not allowing myself to be dismissed or walked all over anymore. I want respect back! Im done washing someones back only to get the bath water thrown at me! Ive never walked up to them and said "I demand that you respect me". Im kinda like mentally saying Im not gonna take this anymore, I deserve to be respected and taken seriously. I deserve to be treated nicely. Im a person just like the rest of them not something that they stepped on. That is what I mean. Im not waltzing into the kitchen as a new hire bossing everyone around. This has been going on for 3 years now. The only person they respected was my FIL. Since he died the biz has gone to H*** in a handbasket.

So far I believe the staff is running the show....not the family and I don't wanna end up like DH giving myself a bleeding ulcer trying to compromise with the staff. They can get pretty obstinate where they sit and watch the customers come in and then get upset when you place an order to be cooked. The family can't expect me to just waltz into the kitchen and "take control". That's not gonna happen, not with those guys back there. I can't even get them to make an order the way the "customer" wants. As for prepping. They precook the fettucine, chop veggies for the omelets and prep the pancake batter. That's it! One of the guys yesterday decided not to show up and didn't even call. My MIL was in the kitchen washing dishes, waitressing AND bussing her own tables. So YOU tell ME who's in charge here.

I come in and cook when the "cook" disappears and no one can find him. (One time he was across the street at the supermarket getting a Carona). I pick up the slack without saying anything. I clean out the walk-in of any spoilage I find. I clean off the counters and tables that the "cook" is supposed to be cleaning. I refill the sugar, salt and pepper which is the bus boy's job. Im not sure if I can paint this all out for you. There is just too much stuff going on. I wash the dishes when the dishwasher decides its time to take a nap. Ive waited on tables with my son strapped to my chest. Im just sick and tired of it all.

Im not the employer here. Im a fellow co-worker. The staff shouldn't expect me to do stuff for them and then leave me hanging out on a limb when I need help. I don't want to work with people who obviously hold everyone (me included) in contempt. Oh and as for learning more......don't expect that from these guys as far at they are concerned they know everything and Im the stupid one in the club. :(

Do you really think I should back to work in the kitchen after my baby gets here?
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
That's IT! I can't take this anymore. I starting to feel like piano wire. I was told today by DH (who's really my BF) that Im not helping out enough. He needs me to make deliveries and Im costing him money by not going on them. Why is this happening to me? Im 5 weeks away from being 40 weeks pregnant. Ive passed out from just going to the supermarket and get winded going up the stairs. He comes home and askes ME for a back massage.

How am I supposed to go on deliveries at 2am? Should I pack the kids in the car again for the millionth time and drive to some unknown location just someone can have a burger and fries? Do you know that our son had to go through three ear infections before he finally stopped asking the first time? Does anyone around here (I dont mean ChefTalk) care about me, my health and how I feel? He knows my doctor said Im not supposed to stand unless it's absolutely neccessary. Why does he always try to guilt me into doing stuff? Why isn't no a good enough answer? Does my being pregnant sound like an excuse to you? That's what he tells me Im doing. "You're always making excuses Jodi" :(

Jodi (who is becoming very unhappy!)

Maybe I shouldn't have posted this thread.
 
131
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Joined Aug 9, 2000
Ohhhhh boy you know I have been in a couple places like this believe me when I say it will get very ugly it is better to walk away and find another job. If you do not get the support you need because you will end up looking like the jerk when it is the other way around people like that do not change.
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Its too late Holydiver! Its gotten WAY past ugly! Trust me. I dont know if anyone here would want to hear the whole sordid story.

Jodi
 
1,389
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Joined Jul 24, 2001
Hey Jodi

Please relax! I want that we celebrate your baby coming as well.
Feel free to use my email or one of my IMs. You will get the info by my profile ;)
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
I made it known loud and clear that I AM NOT working at the family biz. No deliveries, no cooking there, nothing. I hate pregnancy hormones for making me this hysterical person I dont know. I don't usually vent like this. Im the type who keeps it bottled in and rarely shows my feelings. (well except with my kids) I always keep quiet, plan my mode of operation and then carry it out. I don't know this teary person Ive become in the past few months. And I resent the people who seem to be taking advantage of my situation.

My PC biz is going on as planned. If they want someone to go into the trenches at the diner and bash their head against the brick wall called "kitchen staff" they are welcome to look around because it wont be me. My health and my kids come first and foremost. I will get more appreciation and satisfaction from my little biz. I am gonna focus on doing what Jodi wants and needs. Its about time I kept the promises I made to myself.
 
3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
Okay, Jodi, deep breath. And another. AND ANOTHER. And one more, for good measure. It's not only the hormones; you ARE between the proverbial rock and hard place. Take one more deep breath.

Now, I know it's hard, but try to tell DH what you've told us: that until he or his mother TAKES CHARGE, you simply cannot work there. Be as specific as you can about what you see as the problem -- you may have to decide whether or not to "name names." Ask him if he likes for you to be so upset, while in your condition -- he can't possibly say yes. Get quiet, not loud. Don't do it in a way that forces HIM to make a choice, but just give him the information he may not know.

I wish I could hand you a handkerchief, and give you a big hug, and say something that would make you laugh! If you want to unload more, you can always do it to me -- I'll even PM you my OTHER e-mail address, so you can do it as much as you like!

Please take care of yourself.
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
It's okay Suzanne. I have had time to take lots of deep breaths and a few cups of water. My blood pressure must have shot up a little cause I got a hot flash. I actually just got a phone call from DH a few minutes ago. We actually had a reasonable conversation.

I asked him point blank to actually think about this whole thing. I can't do deliveries. What am I supposed to do with the kids? Strap 2 babies and a kindergartener (who has to go to school in around 8am soon) in their car seats and drive to some unknown location? What would happen to the kids if someone decided to rob me? He tried to say that he'd come with me. So I said " And leave the diner with no cashier?". The last time he tried to come with me on a delivery he came back to find the staff giving away the food! They also couldn't figure our what the word (milkshake) that the customer was pointing to on the menu was. I think he got the picture.

The conversation even covered his mom's management (or mis management rather) methods. He's explaining to me that she is old school greek where the women don't have all this responsibility and ususally let the men run things. I told him that until she took control of the situation, realized that SHE IS THE BOSS this whole situation would never end. I mean c'mon....are you supposed to let the staff reduce you to tears? I let him know that the only way Id be in that kitchen is if the kitchen staff was replaced. They respect no one. Not even the owner's widow.

The whole idea about me in the kitchen was my FIL's idea. Id learn directly underneath him and take over the kitchen and DH would be given control of the biz so that my FIL could finally retire. Two weeks later he was dead at 72. DH's mom is not letting go of the biz because it keeps her close to my FIL. I think he would be rolling over in his grave the way she is letting the staff treat her and everyone. After my little out of control rant.....I did let them know how I feel about the whole situation. It's a no win. And Im not going to do it. Find some other sucker.

Ive never had so much stress during a pregnancy but Im not gonna let THIS make me or the baby sick. Im so stressed Im begining to think Im not gonna make it all the way to 40 weeks after all. I guess we'll see.

Jodi

PS

To give you an idea of how bad the staff is. There was a new chef (an actual trained cook! By golly!) who was supposed to start there. He took one look at the bunch in the kitchen and the lack of respect they showed and quit the same day. That bunch is being allowed to destroy what took my FIL 20+ years to build. I try not to think about all this cause all it does is keep me p'od. And I don't need the added stress.
 
846
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Joined Nov 29, 2001
If restaurants didn't do prep, it would take 3 hours to deliver a plated meal to each table. This would be unacceptable (at least to me, especially when I'm blind with hunger). Prep is necessary. No debate about it.

In addition, you are the boss. Come on, say it with me..."I am the boss." If your husband wants you to take over the kitchen, he has to hand over the whole thing, lock, stock and grease trap. It has to work by your rules and the minute you start letting people get away with crap like your cook just did - you're doomed. Give husband an ultimatum (OMG! The "U" word!) - either you get full charge of the kitchen or he can hire someone and let you do your PC service. Then, staff the kitchen as you like and have the employees work by your rules. End of story.

Take a stand. It's the only way to effectively run a kitchen.
 
1,006
10
Joined Feb 6, 2002
That is what I told DH during our conversation today. Id have to have TOTAL control over the kitchen and all the present staff would have to go! But he is not the one in charge. His mom is and she thinks us young uns don't have a clue about biz. Its actually the other way around.

Ive been an Executive Assistant, HR Asst, Recruiter and Asst Supervisor among other things. I know good biz practices and she doesnt have any. They need Standardized Recipes, an New Hire Packet that outlines job description and duties etc. and the rules and regs of working at the diner. That is only for starters. There is also inventory that needs to be taken and waste mgmt definately has to be looked at. My MIL seems to think that "cheap" help equals good help. She is cuttin all sorts of corners to save money and losing it by the bucketfull.

We are offered catering gigs and deliveries and everyone else seems to think that making money is too much work. Our customers are slowly disappearing because of our staff probs. I wonder why Im even trying to revamp the menu, standardize our recipes and do all this when I will not be given credit, recognition or respect for my help. So I told DH what I had to say. Now its up to him to speak to his mom. HE has to speak up for HIMSELF!

Jodi
 

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